By Daniel Silliman
A Clayton County Police officer, and his friend, claim to have the body of a Bigfoot.
The animal -- a legendary, hairy hominid that supposedly lives in remote forests -- is said to be dead, frozen, and "shocking."
Matthew Whitton, a 28-year-old, who has been with the department for six years, and Rick Dyer, a 31-year-old former correctional officer, posted a video on youtube.com, last week, claiming to have the male Bigfoot corpse, alleged evidence that the much-hunted and often hoaxed monster, is a real, living species.
The video shows black garbage bags draped over a formless hulk, and promises revelations are coming soon.
"It's not a mythological creature that there's just one of," Whitton says on the Internet video. "It's a species that may be really rare, but they're actually out there breeding."
Whitton and Dyer co-own bigfoottracker.com, offering exploration expeditions in the North Georgia Mountains for $499, apparently with dogs, traps and tracking techniques.
Whitton, speaking to the Clayton News Daily the week before the alleged discovery, said the tracking business is an active hobby and he firmly believed in Bigfoot. He said he knew where a family of Bigfoot lived, in Georgia, and planned to lead an expedition to find them in September.
On their web site the next week, Whitton and Dyer announced an alleged discovery: "We have located a family of Bigfoot, and besides the clear photos and video, we have something even more shocking, a BODY."
The Clayton County Police Department responded to the news with an official statement giving the department some distance.
"That's his own personal business," said Police Chief Jeff Turner. "That has nothing to do with the business of the Clayton County Police Department. As long as he's not engaged in any type of illegal activity, his business is his business."
Turner said it is against department policy for any officer to represent himself or herself online, as an officer or anything other than an individual, private citizen, and said he does not know that Whitton has violated that policy.
Whitton is currently on leave, recovering from a gunshot wound to his left hand during a response to a Stockbridge armed robbery earlier this month.
The people who believe in Bigfoot and are searching for evidence responded to the announcement with a mixture of disbelief, ridicule and hope. The Bigfoot Field Research Organization, a California-based group claiming there have been 61 Bigfoot sightings in Georgia, officially described Whitton and Dyer as "idiots" and "clowns," and warned their claims are a scam to advertise their business.
Tal H. Branco, an Arkansas man who writes a regular column about Bigfoot research, said a lot of Bigfoot people think the whole thing's a hoax, but a lot of people are hoping, too, that they do have a Bigfoot body.
"Maybe Whitton did obtain the hard evidence required to solve one of the world's greatest mysteries," Branco said. "It is apparently being promoted by a police officer that has everything to lose as far as his profession is concerned, if it is a game, a hoax or just a joke. On the other hand, if it is true, and the Bigfoot body is in his custody ... his decision to announce it on an Internet web site before the body was examined by an expert certainly indicates a lack of good judgment."
In one video, posted online by "RDYER678," Whitton and Dyer interview a "pathologist" who is shocked at the Bigfoot, but then, in a follow-up video, the pair admits the "doctor of pathology" is actually Whitton's brother. Standing in a kitchen, Whitton's brother says to the camera, "Live and let live. What happened to that? Guys just trying to have a little fun, you know?"
Dyer said the claims are not a prank, though, and not just an attempt to have fun. Reached on his cell phone Tuesday, he insisted the body is real and will be unveiled on Sept. 1 on the web site.
"Why would we jeopardize Matt's job? Why would we risk the embarrassment of the backlash that we would get? We just have a lot to lose if this is a hoax ... I thought Bigfoot trackers and hunters were ridiculous and I made fun of them, to be honest, and I still do. They know nothing as fact. We do," Dyer said.
Dyer said the Internet announcement and the obvious lie were meant to draw detractors and "build hype." Other Bigfoot researchers were dismissed by Dyer, and he said he and Whitton are the best trackers because they "have a body."
He said the animal is about eight-feet tall, and about equal to the size of "three silverbacks," adult male gorillas, and nothing like the reported descriptions in the books.
"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "It's a lot more than animal."
Dyer did not say how they came into possession of the carcass, and declined to let a news reporter look at it, but swore it was being well-preserved and would be revealed.
Dyer said he and Whitton plan to sell the Bigfoot body and make a lot of money.
"As of right now," he said, "we've been offered a million bucks for it, from a very credible source. But we'll make 10 times that. This will change history forever."
On the web: